Maximize Resources – Use What You Have

Every owner wants to maximize resources. The whole concept of profitability is based on doing the most with the least, but we often are trapped in the prevailing thought pattern about how things “should” be done.

building cranesWhen taking a car service to the airport in Denver on Friday, I noticed a new hotel under construction out on the prairie. There were 6 building cranes huddled around it like mother storks over a communal nest. (Or perhaps that is why we call them cranes?)

The construction had progressed to the second or third floor. Certainly using heavy equipment capable of lifting material over one hundred feet into the air wasn’t an especially efficient method, but I understand the logic. Placing the cranes at the beginning of the job saves time. Having six of them makes sure that crews aren’t idle while waiting for material. The builders are trying to maximize resources.

But I have to contrast the scene with what I’ve observed in China, where building seems to be at a breakneck pace almost everywhere. The demand for apartment blocks around the cities is extreme, and their construction is ubiquitous.

In China they build five or six apartment blocks simultaneously. There is one crane in the middle, and the buildings are arranged in a  circle around it. One mother stork; six nests.

It looked odd until I realized their logic. Labor in China is cheap and plentiful. Heavy equipment is expensive and scarce. The best way to maximize resources is to staff six projects at one time so the crane is always busy. If crews are idle, it is no big deal. Their time isn’t a major factor in the cost of production.

How do you maximize resources in your business? Do your salespeople sell all of the time; or do they, like many, spend half their time documenting what they did during the other half? Are you paying an employee $500 a week to perform a manual process when $50 per month software would free up half her time?

And how careful are you about your most expensive resource – your time? Do you have managers who can run the business from different vantage points, speeding up decision making and keeping everyone productive?

Or are you the crane in the middle, with everyone waiting until you can get around to them?

Do you know a business owner who would enjoy Awake at 2 o’clock? Please share!

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